30: Personal Transformation & Authenticity w/ Kate Maree O’Brien
Kate is a visionary and global voice for boldness and truth. She has fought for her life twice and knows first hand what personal transformation looks like. She's a total stand for what’s possible in humanity & collaborates with the top leaders in our industry: Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, and many more.
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Welcome to the Lavendaire Lifestyle, the podcast on lifestyle design for millennials. I'm Aileen and I'm here to guide you to become a master artist of life. Every Sunday you'll get new insight and inspiration on how to create your dream life. After the episode, the conversation continues in our Lavendaire Lifestyle Facebook group, so I can't wait to see you there. Life is an art, make it your masterpiece.
Aileen: Hi everyone! It's Aileen. You're listening to The Lavendaire Lifestyle. Today I have a special guest. Her name is Kate Maree O'Brien, and Kate is a visionary and global voice for boldness and truth. She's fought for her life twice and knows firsthand what personal transformation looks like. So she's a total stand for what's possible in humanity and collaborates with the top leaders in our industry like Jack Canfield, Brendon Burchard, and many more. Hi Kate. So glad to have you here.
Kate: Hi Lavendaire. Thank you so much for having me.
Aileen: Yeah! Alright, so let's start off talking about your background because I did read up on your background that you had to overcome crazy challenges: drug addiction, anorexia, depression. Can you talk about that struggle?
Kate: Yeah. Gosh, where do we start?
Aileen: I know.
Kate: What I'll start with–it was a total prison, you know? Anyone who's listening has experienced anything like that where you just feel like you're so isolated from everyone in the world. I mean, that's how I felt. I felt isolated. I felt alone in my struggles. I felt like no one understood me. I was in therapy for anorexia at age eighteen.
Kate: And this went right through to my early twenties and I remember just thinking that at that grand old age, my early twenties, I had totally screwed up my life. There was no hope for me in my life whatsoever.
Aileen: And that's what you believed yourself?
Kate: It was totally my belief. I could not see anything else apart from that my life was gone. And I couldn't, also, even imagine any life without that. So, you know, to go from there to living the kind of life I get to live now…the reason why I like to share that is that I want to remind people it does not matter where you're starting from. You can literally get anywhere from here.
Aileen: Right. That's a crazy transformation. I mean, I want to dig into that a little deeper because–so how many years do you think you were kind of stuck in that dark place? And how exactly did you start to get out of it?
Kate: Yeah, three years in the peak of anorexia and depression, I…it took everything to get out of anorexia. I got little quote/commas going in the air. And when I got out of that, I had kind of like a tree. It's like the tree had been topped off, cut off, let’s say that the tree was anorexia, but the roots underneath the ground hadn't been dealt with. It's like roots that had fed that thing was still there, and so the roots then shot up another tree which was called a drug addiction.
Aileen: Yeah, and what were those roots? Can you talk about that?
Kate: Yeah. Not enoughness, fear, guilt, anxiety, and you know, like anything that we go through all stem from our very early experiences, you know. When we're born, we don't have that preconditioning. By the time we're five years old, 50% of our beliefs are in place. By the time we're eight years old, 80% of our beliefs are in place. And at twelve, it's 95%. You know? So it's early years that create the core conditioning.
And you know for me, it was very disruptive. We lived in a family of violent alcoholism. However, and here's the interesting thing that I want to say, because you might be sitting there thinking, listening to this podcast: “But I didn't have a childhood like that,” or you might be thinking, “I did.” You know, “I didn’t have a childhood like that.” It's actually, in terms of this early conditioning, it actually is for–when someone's little like six years old, even someone not playing with them in the playground, if that was a really big thing for that five-year-old and the little five-year-old felt really upset, that can get coded and have the story of not enoughness.
And it's the–we’ve traveled the world and worked with tens of thousands of people, and it's this feeling and the background of feeling fundamentally flawed, that is a shared human experience. It gets expressed in different ways. And actually, often, when they’re feeling this not enoughness, we're trying to even prove the opposite. So for a while, it just got too much and I had to numb it out through all those things. But, you know, I've also experienced the other end of it, that I've been extremely successful in my life, coming out of that place of trying to prove that I am enough.
Aileen: So do you think that it drove you to the extreme on the other end, trying really hard to prove that you could be successful?
Kate: A hundred percent.
Aileen: Wow. Yeah, it's interesting.
Kate: And you look at a lot of people who are high-achievers and perfectionists, especially perfectionists.
Kate: Where does that come from? Where does the drive come from? Now, is it possible to create out of an entirely different space? Yeah. It's entirely possible. See, I really believe that when we do the work over here inside us primarily, first of all, and get that we're actually enough as we already are, and we stop trying to get somewhere to prove our worthiness, to achieve something so that we'll be good enough, all of those things. And then we just realize that, “Actually, right now, we're already flipping awesome.” Excuse my French.
Aileen: [Laughs] It's okay.
Kate: And then from that space, what do I want to create? From that space, what do I want to expand into? And then it comes from a very different space.
Aileen: So really, you are enough where you are right now, everybody out there. I mean, when someone's going through depression, though–when you tell someone they're enough and they're in that state, sometimes they just–it doesn't register. How? Let's talk about how to get someone to realize that.
Kate: Yeah, I think–and you're right: we can't tell–get someone to realize anything if they're not willing to, and I think that's the challenging thing. I mean, if we're thinking of someone else being in depression and how do we get them to be better? That can be quite a challenging thing, right? If we're going to answer that one particularly: if you do have someone in your life that is feeling depressed, one of the things is just to know that they're loved unconditionally and they have support available and that they're not alone, is, I think, the key things that people need to know. People need to know that they're not alone and that there's help available, because I think things like depression and anxiety, things like that, people become very isolated.
And then, when sometimes well-meaning family and friends trying to change them, trying to make them better, can be very frustrating if they're not yet ready to. But as long as they know that somebody's there to support them–I remember my mum. My mum. The time I actually told her that I had been on drugs and I've just got off drugs, you know what she said? She could've said a million to a million things. You know? Here's her daughter saying, “I've just got off of one of the hardest drugs there is known to mankind,” and instead of saying anything that came from her own place of fear, she just said–this is the first thing that came out of her mouth– [Gasp] “Wow, I’m so proud of you.”
Aileen: Aw, that's sweet.
Kate: And I was like, “What?!” and she said, “Yes, I heard that's a really, really strong, addictive drug. And the fact that you've got off it, that makes you the strongest woman I know.”
Kate: I know. Talk about pick a woman up when she's feeling down.
Aileen: Yeah, oh my goodness. That's beautiful.
Kate: But in terms of you, yourself, as feeling depressed, how do you make those steps? Small, small baby steps. I think one thing: we have to know what's possible for us inside of feeling depressed or inside of feeling like things have crumbled around us. It's sometimes hard to see that light. So if anyone is listening to this and they are in a space or you are in a space where you're feeling quite alone in whatever you're going through, please know–find a part of you that has a knowing–that fear is absolutely a way out of this. And sometimes this is where you have to dig from courage and from faith.
And then from that knowing just remind yourself every day about that knowing, and then just little steps like “What can you do today?”, “What can you do in this moment?” It’s the little stuff–if every time, if every moment you say, “What can I do in this moment?” and you just follow that, you know, these are little things like having a shower, you know? Sometimes having a shower can build momentum to having some breakfast. And sometimes having some breakfast, if you haven't eaten in awhile, can build some momentum to something else.
And you know, momentum adds up. I think I'm proof of the matter. I've got a–now I've got a huge global business, I live in Bali. Life is so different. We got a team of 70 full-time employees on our team and, you know, this is built up from–I used to live in a garage with no money and feel very isolated. So really, when I say, “Have a knowingness that you can get anywhere from here,” please know that. And it's the little steps that add up.
Aileen: Yeah, I love that so much. It is the little steps, and I always tell people to start doing the little things to take care of yourself, like you said: shower, or go for a walk. Just listen to music, dance a little bit. Those little things really make a difference. And yeah, let's talk about the amazing life that you have now because you've done some pretty awesome things for the people in this world. I mean, first of all, do you want to share about your global summits and workshops, that kind of thing?
Kate: Yes. So we've got a few type of things going on. GameChanger Global Summit is an annual event when we interview the top quote-unquote thought leaders of the world, like the Jack Canfield and the Brendon Burchards, and that's fun. That's really fun. We also have two-day breakthrough event where–it was just called GameChanger Live and we run that through Southeast Asia and Australasia. And we have a couple of hundred people in the rooms on those events.
And then we have daily mentoring space which is called Game Changer VIP, which you can check out at GameChangerVIP [dot] com. But it's a daily mentoring space where mentor and they’re live, and really, the intention of that is–we share all of ourselves inside the space because I want people to really get that: Play it big. Live an extraordinary life. And also get that you're an extreme human being at the same time, because I think, sometimes, even people, you know–if you look at me and we just talk about the shiny things that I'm doing out in the world, sometimes people who are listening to this can then, perhaps see me on a pedestal and feel a big disconnection between where I am and where they are. Does this make sense?
Kate: The reality of it is: I have an extraordinary marriage now. Last night we had an argument.
Aileen: It's life! Everyone's human.
Kate: Yeah, really. This morning I'm still feeling a little bit of the hangover of it, but I think it's important to talk about these things, not because it’s a shit dump and just, you know, dumping all my stuff because I'm not responsible for it. But I think it's important to actually share these things so that we all get that we all are going through things. And when you're really experiencing your humanity, it doesn't mean anything about your extraordinariness.
Aileen: I love that. And I think it's a thing with people in the personal development space, you know. And you're a leader in this industry. People look to you and they think you're a hero and you're perfect all the time, every day is great. They look at Tony Robbins and they'll be like, “Wow, he's extraordinary 24/7.” It's like, “No, we're real people. We have our off days.” Honestly, me, the past couple days, I have had off days. I've not been on point, but I recognize that it's normal. It's the flow of life, you know?
Aileen: Everyone's human.
Kate: Absolutely, absolutely. And being able to interview all these top leaders and spending time with them, also, behind the scenes, that's what we've seen over and over again. And please know this: everyone is human.
Kate: So the next time even that you’re feeling–anyone that's listening to this–you're feeling alone because you're thinking, “It's only me that's going through this,” really get: No, it's not.
Aileen: Everybody goes through this. And another thing is: if you knew all the answers, if life was easy, what would be the point? You know? We're here to have our struggles, to learn, explore, and grow and heal. Thanks for that. Thanks for bringing that up.
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Aileen: Okay, so next: I do want to talk about authenticity. I feel like that's a big part of you, and you did that naked photoshoot. Do you want to talk about that? Maybe share an example in your life where you kind of learned the hard way, the importance of authenticity?
Kate: [Laughs]. Yeah.
Aileen: Yeah. [Laughs].
Kate: There's so many times, but I'm going to use this one example. It was years ago, and I remember there was a point in time where I was sort of picking and choosing who knew about the fact that I had been on drugs and who knew these parts of my life. And I would talk openly with some people, and then there were some situations that heck no, this was not a conversation I would bring up. And I didn't realize that had an impact on me, to still have parts of me kind of in the closet, so to speak, and to not be free to be all of me at all times. And I didn't realize the impact. And then one day, I opened the newspaper, and on the front page and second page was an article about me being on drugs.
Kate: And it was actually a beautifully written article.
Kate: And the person I had been working with was a–I started to do some work on a national label around helping to create a P-free New Zealand, which is a drug-free New Zealand. And the person who I was working with was a New Zealand celebrity. And so he wrote this beautiful article–and it was lovely–but the fact was it said, you know, essentially: “Kate was an ex-drug addict”. And it rocked me. I remember reading it, not expecting it. The room spun and the ground literally moved from under my feet and I felt like I was going to vomit. And I remember feeling like, once again, the intensity of the moment: “My life's stuffed!” You know? People are going to know this. I'm not going to get employed. At that time, I was a registered nurse. I'm not going to get employed. People are not going to–you know. All of this fear. My grandparents read the article, all of that.
Aileen: That is scary. Everyone in your life knows now.
Kate: Everyone knew. And we live in a small town. I couldn't even go to the bank. I couldn't leave the house for about five days.
Aileen: Oh my goodness.
Kate: And–but what came through that, and this is the important part, what came through that was I realized that the freedom on the other side of not having to hide was incredible. Now, that was almost forced on me, which I'm glad that it was. But yeah, the freedom when we don't have to pick and choose how we show up in different environments is golden. Now, am I 100% clear with that message every single day now? (And this is like eight, nine years later.) No, no. I'm still learning it and I feel like I'm still unfolding different elements of it. But it's a big one, and I think the more we can unfold into it, deepen into it, the more freedom we get to experience.
Aileen: Yeah, so I do have a question about that. So your stance is that you believe that you should be 100% open and honest with the world? You know, for example: me. A personal problem is: how much of my life do I keep private vs. public? Do you think it's important to really show everything or do you think–I don't know. What are your opinions on that?
Kate: I don't think there's actually any rules. I think we get to make up the rules, essentially. And reality. There's no rules. I’m not going to sit here and say, “This is the band aid rule for everyone.” But what I do think is that if we are afraid to say things because of how people would respond, I think that's something we need to go and look at for ourselves.
Aileen: That's true. I agree.
Kate: Yeah. And I think there's a lot of that that’s happening, but here's the thing: if you put a frog into hot water, it's going to realize it's hot and jump straight out. If you put it into cold water, it will stay in there. And if you slowly turn up the temperature of that water, slowly, slowly, slowly, so slowly that it keeps adjusting to the temperature each time, it will actually–the water will be boiling and cooking the frog-
Aileen: Oh wow.
Kate: Cooking the frog before it's even realizing that it's getting cooked, and it won't jump out. This is that tolerance evolved over time when small changes occur in our lives and we tolerate things that don't work for us because we become our new normal. And so when I see that, what I really also do see is that a lot of people are living, hiding different parts of themselves because they're afraid to show it. And it's become so normal that they haven't even realized the impact of what it is.
Aileen: They don't even realize they're hiding.
Kate: No. No, so do we have to go and say everything to everyone? No, not at all. But I do think that it's useful to self-examine more and cushion ourselves more on just how we're doing ourselves and how we're doing the world. Is it really serving us in the big picture? And what else could be available if we do things a little different?
Aileen: Right. I think this can apply to a lot of people who feel like they have different opinions from, for example, their peer group or their family, but they're too afraid to show that. Yeah, I think that that's a big issue actually, especially in this day and age. Everyone has such conflicting opinions. It's hard, you know?
Kate: Yeah, you gotta find your own truth, and I think sometimes we're also so tangled in the voices in our head that we’re (perhaps the mum's voice or the dad's voice) that can just–under fear, we're not even connecting into what's really there for us.
Aileen: Do you meditate or do you journal? What are your tools for connecting with yourself and your authenticity?
Kate: I can be so hit or miss, depending–so hit or miss on what I'm doing that works for me at the time. But overall, writing is the best thing, when I actually do it, to be honest.
Kate: Yeah, things like writing, self care, all of that kind of stuff. Taking time out for myself which, you know–and I think this is, I think this part here is the challenge. When you're doing stuff that you really, really love. For me, I'm doing this and I love it. I could do it 24/7. Sleep feels like an interruption. And then the thing that I often will leave off is self care. And I know that it has a big impact. And I talk about self care, like last night: I went out on my own for a little bit. But I think it's balance that we keep playing with.
Aileen: Yeah. I mean, you always have to remind yourself, right? Give yourself some extra time and care. But I know, as someone who's very ambitious, and you love to work and you love what you do, yeah, I get it.
Aileen: You have to keep it balanced.
Aileen: Okay. So I do want to ask: do you have one action that our listeners can take today that can shift their mindset in a positive way?
Kate: Get out a piece of paper. Put a big line through the center of it, going downwards. On one-hand side of the paper, write the things that you're saying in your head about why you can't. And then on the other side–just write out as much of what you can. And on the other side, write the opposite.
Aileen: On the left side, write down why you think you can't. And on the right side, write why you think you can.
Kate: All of it. Not just why you think you can't, but all of that stuff that comes up like, “I'm not good enough” or “I'm this, I'm that” or “I can't do it because I'm too young or don't hit some qualification” or “My parents don't agree with this choice for me” or “If I do this, I'm skiting”. Sometimes there's so much stuff that gets impacted under the surface, and it's all the stuff that holds us back. Write all that down and even actually explore where does it actually come from. Sometimes, some of those voices in your head can actually be your parent's voice which go unexamined.
For example: I just got my first tattoo recently and it's a bit tattoo on my forearm. And the only voice actually that was in my head, just in the real background, that had stopped me was my mum's voice of, you know, “Tattoos on women aren't nice.” Just realizing that. So, you know, understand where that was and just write on the right-hand side, write all the things, actually, that are your truth. We have different parts of ourselves. What does that part of you that’s absolutely true and that is guiding you and wants you to, you know, really expand in this lifestyle. Then write from that voice. And answer all of that.
Aileen: Find your truths. I really love that, and I'm gonna do that right after this episode. Alright, lastly: where can our listeners find you online, Kate?
Kate: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube at [at] KateMareeO'Brien. Maree is spelled M-A-R-E-E. [at] KateMareeOBrien. And also, if you want: I've got a free training series. It's a two-part free series. And a little bit of what I've touched on today about the kind of underlying patterning of how we are made up, it will go through in these two videos. It's called “The Science of Unletting Possibility”, and you can get it over at GameChangerFree [dot] com.
Aileen: Awesome. And I'll have those links in the show notes and in the blog post, so check those out. Definitely check out Kate Maree O'Brien. Thank you so much, Kate, for being here. It was a pleasure.
Kate: Pleasure. So nice to meet you.
Alright, that's it for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening to The Lavendaire Lifestyle. If you like the podcast, please show your support by leaving a review on iTunes. It helps me so much. It also helps other people find the show. You can also catch me on YouTube and Instagram at @lavendaire, where I have even more content for the Artist of Life.
Alright, love you all. Bye!
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